Saturday, November 29, 2014


 "When a man assumes a public trust 
he should  consider himself 
a public property."
    - Thomas Jefferson

Considering putting your name forward as a candidate for a political party is an interesting process.

First you have to ask yourself, honestly, why do you want to do it? The answer will be different for many people. They may crave recognition, it could be ego, it could be the opportunity to make a difference, or it might be the pursuit of an attractive salary package and a lucrative pension. 

Your motivation will help answer the question about what you are prepared to sacrifice to run and win. The life of a politician is not easy on families and relationships. Politicians spend a lot of time on the road away from their spouses and children. Even when they are at home the cell phone, e-mail, messenger and meetings drone on. Finding a balance for you family against the needs of your constituents, your party, the media and the legislature can be very difficult.

I have never lived the life of an elected official. However, I have been very close to it. One of the men that I worked for got married and raised two children over the period of his political career. In the end the career took a toll on his marriage. He and his wife raised two wonderful, respectful and successful children who have prospered academically and economically. 

Sure, you can say family first - but as much as voters will not admit, they really do not care about you child's Christmas Concert or a Kindergarten Graduation. They expect to see you at the fireman's ball or the rally to save a the clinic. They will not forgive you for not attending and your political opponents will always use your unavailability as fodder. 

The seat of government is in St. John's which means the vast majority of our MHA's have to live in the city when the House of Assembly is open. There are many days and evenings where they simply can not be at home.

These sacrifices are not always appreciated. Once you sign the contract to be the people's choice for a term, your first obligation is to them, or you will not get a second term.

Than there is the question of accomplishing your personal goals. If you are the type, and I am sure most are, that wants to make a difference - that feels passionately about issues - balancing  that with the rigors of caucus solidarity is sure to be a challenge. Lets be honest, it is the glue that binds but how many PC MHA's see the writing on the wall because they chose to tow the party  line instead of their personal convictions.

I am an old hand at organizing, running and participating in political campaigns for just about every conceivable election. The recipe for success and failure is not all that complicated. Fail to plan equates to planning to fail. Organizing, funding, communicating, speaking skills are based on 30 year of doing just that.

Can I  accept the challenges of party solidarity, the sacrifices to my family life and the interplay of often childish petty politics that underscores the reality of how parties, caucuses, people and government work?

To me democracy begins at the local level, yet the reality is that government is a top down phenomena where a few party and government elites call all the shots. 

I believe that public office is one of the highest aspirations that one can ever hope to achieve. Good politicians are builders, they look for solutions to the problems that we face. They see the big picture and are not anchored to the present.

I suppose it is like swimming, if I had never gotten in the water and tried, I would never have learned.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have to ask myself a couple of questions: Can I make a difference to my community and my province?; is the timing right?; and most importantly - do I have enough faith in any team to jump on-board? 


Lazy MHA said...

Yes, it can be brutal having to be in St. John's up to 45 days a year, for up to four days in a row.

Tony said...

Finally time to take the plunge

Anonymous said...

Beats being an unemployed Student Aid Information Officer. Go for it!! It is now or never!